Manulife Investment Management acquired a minority stake in Albamen Capital Partners, a newly launched Hong Kong-based private equity infrastructure investment firm focused on power-intensive assets in China such as renewable energy and data centers.
The firm acquired a "very significant minority stake" in Albamen with an option to take a controlling stake over the next two years, Myron Zhu, Manulife's Hong Kong-based head of private markets, Asia, said in an interview.
He declined to disclose financial details of the deal.
Albamen's team of more than 20 professionals, led by Raymond Fung, founder and managing partner, worked together at another China-focused Hong Kong-based infrastructure investment boutique, JIDA Capital Partners.
Mr. Zhu said the JIDA team, together with a state-owned entity on the mainland, previously managed on onshore fund vehicle but were looking to expand their client base to include overseas institutional investors. JIDA is currently winding down its operations and selling its existing portfolio, which could take six to 12 months, he said.
Just under a year ago, JIDA released a statement saying it would wind down its CGN Capital Partners Infrastructure Fund III LP and wouldn't be launching any new funds.
Once Albamen garners the licenses it needs from Hong Kong regulators to start investing, Manulife will make an anchor investment of $100 million to the boutique's first fund, Mr. Zhu said.
Under the partnership, Manulife will bring institutional quality risk management, compliance practices and ESG oversight to a team with a large number of partners that come from the industrial side in clean energy technology, he said. Maintaining the team's "entrepreneurship and independence" is a priority, he said.
In a Manulife news release Wednesday, Mr. Zhu said: "Albamen adds a key, in-demand Chinese onshore infrastructure investment capability to our robust private markets team globally."
Manulife currently manages a little over $100 billion in private markets globally, predominantly in North America. In Asia, the firm has only managed in-house money but Manulife is looking to build a business serving third-party clients as well, Mr. Zhu said.